New Jersey Conservation Foundation
New Jersey Conservation Foundation Menu
NJCF Homepage Contact Us Donate Events Search NJCF
New Jersey Land Conservation Organization
Donate to New Jersey Conservation Foundation
State We're In New Jersey Conservation Foundation Blog
A bold plan for the planet

The Earth is about 3.8 billion years old, and has experienced five great extinctions of plants and animals. The last took place about 65 million years ago, when a giant asteroid slammed into Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

In the words of biologist and author Edward O. Wilson, the asteroid impact “rang the planet like a bell,” causing volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, acid rain and a tsunami that raced across the globe. Soot in the atmosphere blocked sunlight and brought on a prolonged cold. Seventy percent of the Earth’s species disappeared forever, including the last of the dinosaurs.

Wilson is among many scientists who believe that Earth is now undergoing a sixth great extinction, with countless species declining or already gone. But this time humans are to blame.

In his newest book “Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life,” the Pulitzer Prize winner and former Harvard University professor argues the only way to stop a sixth great extinction – and save humanity at the same time - is by preserving half of the planet for nature. This includes both oceans and lands.

“Humanity’s grasp on the planet is not strong. It is growing weaker,” writes Wilson. “Our population is too large for safety and comfort. Fresh water is growing short, the atmosphere and the seas are increasingly polluted as a result of what has transpired on land. The climate is changing in ways unfavorable to life, except for microbes, jellyfish and fungi.”

Wilson builds a case that man’s relentless consumption of land and resources is destroying habitats and depleting the Earth’s biodiversity.  There are more than 2 million known plant and animal species on Earth, and more than 6 million others thought to exist but not yet identified.

It’s projected that if we remain on the same course, 70 percent of Earth’s animals and plants will disappear in about 300 years. Because the web of life is interconnected, the loss of so many of these species could lead to the collapse of all but a few.

Wilson applauds the global conservation movement but believes conservation efforts must be raised to a new level: “The only solution to a ‘Sixth Extinction’ is to increase the area of inviolable natural reserves to half the surface of the Earth or greater.”

Is this feasible? Does humanity have the will, discipline and ability to set aside that much land and ocean in undisturbed reserves?

Wilson sees great hope in humanity’s ability to shrink our “ecological footprint” through advances in technology. Trends like teleconferencing rather than commuting, growing food in indoor vertical gardens under LED lights, online medical consultations, e-books replacing paper publications, online shopping and trade, and armchair travel through remote webcams all slow humanity’s spread and allow more room on Earth for nature.

He also believes that the world’s population will level off at 9.6 to 12.3 billion by the end of the century, and then drop as families increasingly choose to have fewer children. “In every country where women have gained some degree of social and financial independence, their average fertility has dropped by a corresponding amount through individual personal choice,” he observed.

It’s not enough to preserve land for human purposes like recreation and agriculture. Conservation efforts must include biodiversity as a goal. It’s critical to preserve wildlands and marine environments for the express purpose of protecting the diversity of life. Wilson also advocates restoration of damaged lands back into habitats for wildlife.

Through this combination of preservation, restoration and declaring large areas of ocean off-limits to fishing, Wilson said, it’s possible for Earth’s diversity of species to recover.

Here in New Jersey, we’re working on doing our part! About a third of New Jersey’s land is preserved, another third is developed and the remaining third is up for grabs. Our state has a permanent - though limited - source of land preservation funding, and many preserved lands provide habitat for rare plants and animals. But much more is needed and it’s critical that this state we’re in continues to preserve our own biodiversity, which is incredible given our state's small size.

Individuals can help too. We can elect officials this November who care about climate change, energy efficiency and saving biodiversity. We can contact our Congressional representatives and ask them to support increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We can donate to conservation groups that protect land and biodiversity.  And we can fill our yards with native plants that help native insects, birds and wildlife.

Let’s hope that bold actions like preserving half of the Earth’s biodiversity take hold and inspire all of us to take action.

To learn more about Half Earth, go to Wilson’s website at

And for more information about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at



NJ Natural Lands Trust celebrates 50 years

Must love bats!

Move and improve your health!

Renewable energy: Save money and our land, water, air and health

Speak up for endangered species!

Save the bugs!

Check out New Jersey's fall bird migration

A little bit of respect...for native plants!

Explore New Jersey's wildflower meadows

All aboard floating classrooms

Catch the Perseids meteor shower!

Check out the 'fun' in fungi

Too hot to think? Studies shows heat affects your brain

Love NJ's outdoors? Take action now!

New Jersey's official reptile, the bog turtle

Sea level rise and New Jersey: Not perfect together

These New Jersey plants have an appetite for insects

Explore the Pine Barrens through paddles, hikes and tours

Like to jog? 'Plog' instead and keep NJ clean

Love Jersey fruit? Thank our native pollinators!

Good news for globally rare swamp pink lilies

Say cheese! Remote cameras aid wildlife research

Begone, single-use plastic bags!

3,000 birds and counting for 'bluebird grandfather'

The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends

A clean energy future for New Jersey

Cowtown and rare grassland birds, perfect together

Fight light pollution during International Dark Sky Week

New film tells story of how Petty's Island was saved

Ten years of nipping invasive species in the bud

Welcome spring in a county park

Go for a walk and feel better!

Grab a friend and go outside

Recycle your way to zero waste!

Last call for winter wildlife watching on Jersey coast

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley


October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011


New Jersey Conservation Foundation on FacebookNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on TwitterNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on FlickrNew Jersey Conservation Foundation YouTube ChannelShare      
New Jersey Conservation Foundation           Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931           908-234-1225 
home  | nj statewide eventscontact us  |  sitemap  |  privacy policy  |  DONATE